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QS as I understand is like PR. A formula created by Google taking in a lot of factors with the exact formula unknown. Like PR - a scale of 0 to 10. 10 being best.
My question is this - is 10/10 an acheivable goal? With PR, a PR 10 site isn't realistic. Frankly if you have a PR4, 5 or 6 you have a good site. So, what is a reasonable target - 7/10, 8/10?
I'd appreciate a discussion where perhaps you can talk in generalities about where your keywords are and what you hope to attain.
Absolutely achievable if you know what you're doing, and, more importantly, understand what Google wants.
I have written an "Adwords FAQ" on my site which would answer a lot but forum rules prevent me from posting a link.
Also - 2nd question if I may - how often is QS updated? When would I see the effect of any changes I've made?
Often the work to go from an 8 to a 10 is a lot; and often not worth the time outside of very competitive industries (in terms of $$ per click).
My overall advice is as such:
If you live and breath AdWords then go for an 8 (7 is OK).
If you also run a business, have a day job, etc then a 7 is a good number.
After every search affecting your keyword. Don't expect to see any changes however. The change in QS can be very small: Google calculates QS to quite a few decimal places and shows you a rounded up number. Biggest changes are at start of a new campaign.
I disagree with eWhisper that a 10 is not always achievable. QS is some sort of standard deviation calculation of historical click rates on the keyword. Therefore, QS should be possible for any keyword. Whether any advertiser has a 10 is another question. He is right however that the effort to go from one QS point to another may be easier or harder depending on the competition. I think that it's always worth to try.
According to Google investor calls, quality score is updated 10 times per quarter, so almost every week; but sometimes its twice a week and other times there is a two week gap.
However, the 10x updates are for the metrics within your account. Landing pages are only taken into account every 6 weeks or so.
If a bunch of advertisers used a keyword which was irrelevant to the ad and page, the click rate would be low and affect the QS accordingly. Therefore, advertisers who are relevant for the keyword would be head and shoulders above and have a great QS.
Mathematically, this is how I believe Google figures it out. An average for a keyword is calculated, say 2.5% historically. That's the base line, say QS=7. They make a standard deviation calculation and it comes up to 0.5 for example. If you achieve a 3% CTR, you are one SD above and assigned a QS of 8. You would therefore get a QS of 10 if your CTR was 4% and above.
Note that I am simplifying here. I use CTR because it is the biggest factor in QS. Also, Google normalizes by position.
It is possible that nobody has a QS of 10 for a keyword. This means that virtually every advertiser falls within the same CTR range. Therefore, with a higher CTR that should make it easier to get higher QS. My logic anyway.
First I heard of QS being updated ten times per quarter. Last I heard was for every search, I think Google said that earlier this year. Makes sense to me however that the account metrics portion of the QS would be updated less frequently.
However, displayed QS in your account is updated about 10x per quarter.